• Sona Chaturvedi

The Hubris of Ignorance

Photo Credit: Mike Lang/Sarasota Herald Tribune. Anti-maskers protest outside the Sarasota County School Board.

Arrogant people are non-learners. They invest their energies in maintaining a cozy feeling of complacency. They are exactly the sort of people who are destined to have one year's experience 20 times rather than 20 years' worth of experience.” -- Peter Honey, Occupational Therapist. We have heard endless accounts of right-wing conservatives denying COVID-19, ignoring science, and sacrificing their jobs, their children and their livelihood. They wave the American flag frantically, as if they are the only true patriots. Their relentless taunting of those who act responsibly during this global pandemic has created a subculture of ignorance. They smugly live in a continuous defiant loop of anger and learn nothing in the process. They vehemently claim all of it is to defend “freedom.” But, that’s not really what’s driving them. Aside from racism, which every right-winger holds onto like religious doctrine, it's also the idea and the absolute need to be “right.” “It’s a political movement based on never admitting a mistake. It is weak and a pathetic exercise doomed to failure. Conservatives were wrong about Trump, they were wrong about coronavirus, they were wrong about the January 6th insurrection, they’re wrong about everything. It’s time for them to admit it,” states political writer Walter Rhein of Perseid Press. The most dangerous part is they seem to never want to acknowledge it no matter the cost. They will never admit Donald Trump and his Republican allies are damaging our democracy daily. What is it about some people who can never admit they made a mistake? Clearly, they are willing to sacrifice everything for it. “The answer is related to their ego, their very sense of self. Some people have such a fragile ego, such brittle self-esteem, such a weak “psychological constitution,” that admitting they made a mistake or that they were wrong is fundamentally too threatening for their egos to tolerate. Accepting they were wrong, absorbing that reality, would be psychologically shattering,” writes Guy Winch, author of Why Certain People Will Never Admit They Were Wrong. Combine that with a malignant narcissistic leader and his willing enablers, who feed these people’s insecurities by indulging them in xenophobic stereotypes, and this country is on a path to destruction. It’s incomprehensible to imagine what is going through the mind of an ardent GOP supporter, who claims to love America. It’s a combination of the inability to admit when they are wrong, lack of critical thinking skills and their undying belief in a diabolically designed plot by the GOP to keep stoking the flames of culture wars. It’s an us versus everyone else mentality with no end in sight. Conspiracy theorists are taking advantage of this moment. Everyone from right-wing podcasters to Fox “news” is making millions at the cost of people’s lives. This psychological weakness is undeniably encouraged by the GOP. It’s about money, tyranny, power, oligarchy and every other hegemonic trick used to keep everyone divided until the powerful and rich can take ultimate control. Trump dementedly claims “my rhetoric brings people together,” which he absurdly musters with a straight face, displaying his pathological aversion to taking responsibility for his own acts, claims Steven L. Isenberg, author of Trump can never admit he made a mistake. Where does this leave us, and can it be fixed? This constant noise can feel hopeless. However, we must remember that although they are loud, they are not the majority. That’s why they are trying to suppress the vote and rule by minority. According to Chauncy DeVega of Salon: “Democrats must counter the Republican-fascist movement at every point across the political battle space. Corporeal politics are essential here: Democrats and other pro-democracy forces actually outnumber the fascist-Republican forces.” The only way to turn this around is by fighting to maintain power and by demanding that the politicians we elected in 2020 deliver tangible results. This includes tackling issues such as regulating social media, cable news and other sources of misinformation that is allowed to thrive and cause irreparable harm. We need to use our numbers and our voices. We must fight harder and become bolder in every aspect, from voting rights to combatting right-wing conspiracies and “alternative facts.” It’s time to remind Washington that politics as usual became a thing of the past quite some time ago. We must hold everyone’s feet to the fire. Or, watch American burn.